After 46 years of working with people with disabilities, Larry Strout is retiring

Man, wearing a cap, and a woman are both smiling at the camera.

When Larry Strout’s work-study college job turned into a full-time position at Goodwill NNE, he decided to stick it out until he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. That was nearly 46 years ago.

Larry is a Director of Community Case Management and oversees case managers across Maine who work with people with disabilities.

Larry has seen a lot of change for the better in his 46-year career. When he started, people with disabilities often lived in large institutions far from their communities and often worked in sheltered workshops where their only coworkers also were people with disabilities. Larry served on committees that brought systematic change so people with disabilities could integrate with the wider world. This diversity enriches workplaces, neighborhoods, and creates a dynamic community across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

“We’re always trying to do something better. It’s been fun to be a part of that change over the years and see other people jump on board to carry it forward,” he said. 

Goodwill programs allow people with disabilities to be independent and focus on their own needs. This model is Person Centered Planning. Each Goodwill client works with a case manager to set goals and create an individualized plan. Larry oversees case managers throughout Maine.

Man smiling and holding a mug that says "World's Best Boss"

Larry said Goodwill wasn’t as big back when he started. Today Goodwill has about 1,400 staff and 16,000 clients. Larry remembers when the whole organization was about 250 people – staff and clients. Back then, Goodwill bought a used school bus, painted red, to use for field trips and events for staff and clients. Larry got his Class 2 driver’s license so he could drive the bus. One summer day, the old red bus, loaded with staff and clients, went to a Red Sox game in Boston. On the way home, not far from Fenway Park, smoke was pouring out of the engine. An overheated radiator was the cause, so Larry fixed it enough to get to southern Maine. At the Kennebunk rest stop the old red school bus died. Since this was before cell phones, Larry had to find a working payphone to arrange transportation home for a bus full of people. It’s memories like this that make him smile.

Larry says he enjoys the direction he followed along all these years. It was along this way, he met his wife, Ann, at Goodwill. When they met, they were co-workers and became fast friends. Larry said things just clicked. Married for over 40 years, Ann likes to joke that she found Larry at Goodwill, he was a little worn, but still a good deal.

Once Larry retires, his plan is to relax and spend time with his four grandkids. He said they are young enough to think he is cool. He wants to capitalize on that while he can. 

We are so grateful for Larry’s dedication, hard work, and commitment over the last 46 years. Thank you, Larry!

Man and woman holding their two grandchildren. One grandchild is an infant and the other is a toddler.
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